Melissa Breen says she’s disappointed by the level of her funding and Athletics Australia does not see her as “an investment for the future”. Photo: Katherine GriffithsHow much is being Australia’s fastest woman worth? According to Athletics Australia’s funding announcement on Thursday it’s about $4000.
Canberra sprint queen Melissa Breen thinks AA’s decision to give her third-tier funding at Commonwealth Games level – two ranks below AA’s world class and international levels – shows it still doesn’t believe she’s a prospect for the future.
That’s despite Breen breaking Melinda Gainsford-Taylor’s 20-year-old 100m record and setting a new mark of 11.11 seconds at the ACT track championships in February. She has also improved her personal best every year for the past three years.
As part of the new National Athlete Support Structure, her CG funding level gives her access to the AIS facilities, including physiotherapy, and about $4000 funding for expenses.
Breen said she already had access to the AIS and has had her physio costs covered since she became Australia’s fastest woman.
She spoke to both AA head coach Eric Hollingsworth and high performance director Simon Nathan on Thursday following their decision.
“Athletics Australia has not deemed me as an investment for the future, they’ve put me on six-month Commonwealth Games funding … they still do not believe I can make it to Rio [de Janeiro Olympic Games in 2016],” Breen said.
“I find it really disappointing that after breaking an Australian record and running the standard needed for the international category of NASS, which is 11.21seconds, I am not seen yet as an investment for the future.
“It’s nice to be recognised, but I thought after breaking the Australian record and [setting a personal best] for the third season in a row, it would be seen that I was on a positive direction towards Rio.”
The 23-year-old admitted it was a “kick in the guts”, but she was determined not to let it distract her from preparing for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July.
She leaves to compete at the Stawell Gift on Friday, where she’s not only trying to win the Women’s Gift, but become the first woman to make it to the semi-finals in the men’s.
Breen has been in a heavy training block since the Australian track championships in Melbourne two weeks ago as she builds towards chasing a medal in Glasgow.
“It’s not going to stop me from running fast,” she said.
“It was always their decision. It’s fine because we did it before and we can do it again.
“I have a great team around me in Canberra who fully believe and support me.”
Nathan said the decision didn’t show a lack of respect for Breen, but he said AA wanted to see how Breen would perform on the international stage.
He understood how Breen could feel like AA didn’t believe in her, but he hoped she could produce a similar time to her record at a major meet.
Nathan wished he had more funding so he could give more assistance to all his athletes, but he stood by the category Breen had been placed in.
All funding will be reassessed in September after Glasgow.
“At this point of time we want to see a bit more to see whether or not she’s a long-term prospect,” Nathan said.
“She’s absolutely run the time and that’s a fantastic achievement for her and her coach, that’s great.
“It’s a very tough event the women’s 100 metres, we’re judging against global top eights at championships so what we need to see from her is consistency of those fast times and to reproduce those fast times at major championships.
“Absolutely no lack of respect, it’s a great time, a really good performance, but what this program is about is global top eights.”
Breen will begin her Stawell Gift campaign on Saturday.